25 Jan 2011

Drought status may remain for a time - minister

6:44 am on 25 January 2011

Agriculture Minister David Carter says he'd be surprised if regions currently in drought were in a hurry to have their official status removed.

The Ministry of Agriculture's national adverse events committee will review the drought status of several North Island regions early next week, after assessing the effects of the widespread heavy rain over the weekend.

Northland, North Auckland, Waikato and the Ruapehu district were officially declared in drought in December. Manawatu had filed a drought declaration request on Friday while Taranaki and Bay of Plenty had prepared applications late last year which they put on hold.

Waikato rural support trust will consider at a meeting on Thursday whether it should recommend lifting the drought designation.

Northland's rural support trust is still assessing whether the rain was a drought-breaker and farmers in the Auckland region are also taking a cautious approach.

Mr Carter says regions may not wish to have drought status lifted immediately and lose the Government support measures that go with it.

He says the effects of drought weather lasts a long time, and are not solved instantly, even after significant rainfall.

Mr Carter was in Golden Bay in the Tasman district on Monday to inspect damage caused by the floods that struck just after Christmas.

The most severe flooding occured in areas adjacent to the Aorere River.

Mr Carter says farmers have already done a lot of work to fix fences and renew pasture but there are still major concerns over how to manage the river so such an event does not recur.

Mr Carter says two farms lost road access when a Bailey bridge was swept away - and the farmers crossed the river by kayak to attend Monday's meeting.